Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Who won the Free Gaza boat affair?

    Daniella Peled
    Sep 1, 2008

    So who won in the "Free Gaza" boat affair?

    This band of activists was determined to sail to Gaza to break the siege with balloons and hearing aids – and they did. Israel wanted to avoid a media frenzy featuring scenes of nuns arrested by Israeli sailors and crying Palestinian children seeing their hearing aids consigned to the briny depths. They also succeeded.

     But it is interesting to note just how seriously the Israelis, who tend to underplay such supposedly well-meaning, do-gooder efforts, took the whole Free Gaza saga. Hasbara bodies were briefing like crazy. Groups like Bicom were mobilised to inform foreign journalists just why this siege-busting attempt was not only illegal and dangerous but also equivalent to a denial of Israel’s right to exist.

  • Is the Crocs craze finally fading?

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 29, 2008

    What has the British and Israel summer had in common this year? It certainly hasn't been the weather.

    The answer in fact, could be lying at your feet.

    Crocs. Yes, those hideously unflattering plastic clogs-cum-sandals-cum-flippers that have been stomping all over the streets.

  • Kissing my football career goodbye

    Craig Silver
    Aug 28, 2008

    It's amazing how some things in life can change so suddenly. In my last blog I expressed my excitement as I waited for the new football season to begin. But just one week ago my football career was ended forever.

    I was playing a pre-season friendly, getting ready with my fellow team mates from Glenthorne United to compete in the great JC MSFL league which kicks off next Sunday (September 7).

    I like to consider myself a rough and ready defensive midfielder always trying to win the ball at any cost and spread the play to the wingers. My idol is Roy Keane a player who took no prisoners in his days as the Manchester United captain.

  • Israelis Beware

    Daniella Peled
    Aug 26, 2008

    Israeli travelers have been warned of a serious and heightened threat of abduction.

    Apparently Hizbollah operatives are keen to avenge the assassination of its head of operations Imad Mughniyeh, killed in a February car bombing in Damascus.

    The global threat to Jews and Israelis is nothing new. But this warning is especially diffuse, as it is fails to specify a particular country, or region, or even a continent where Israelis are at particular risk.

  • How one Orthodox rabbi joined Conservative

    Miriam Shaviv
    Aug 22, 2008

    The New York Jewish Week has a piece on Rabbi David Lincoln, a British-born and British-trained rabbi who has just retired from a Conservative shul in NY and is now davening in an Orthodox congregation.

     He recently angered the local Orthodox community by expressing surprise, on a Jewish cable television show, that “there was no sense of outrage” in Orthodox Jewry after a series of headlines about sexual molestation and financial scandals in the community.

    But what is really fascinating is how this rabbi – who received Orthodox semichah in the UK and who has the Chief Rabbi’s certificate, which allows him to serve in communities under the Chief’s auspices – ended up in a Conservative synagogue:

  • Is Jewish life in the UK really as bad as the Americans say?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Aug 21, 2008

    Dave Rich of the CST attempts to refute, in Ha’aretz, the accusation, heard mostly from American Jews, that Britain is a terrible place for Jews to live – beset by antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and Muslim extremists waiting to take over the country and convert us all.

    He argues that while antisemitism is, undeniably, on the rise, the community is prosperous and well-integrated, and that our defences against antisemitism – in terms of monitoring organizations like the CST, government awareness etc - are solid.

    “This is not the 1930s,” he writes, “and a sense of proportion and balance is vital.”

  • A million cheers for the Secret Millionaire

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 20, 2008

    Did you see last night’s The Secret Millionaire on Channel 4? Property chief Nick Leslau gave away close to £400,000 to worthy causes in Glasgow. He swapped his luxury lifestyle to become an undercover volunteer in one of Glasgow’s most deprived areas.

    At the end of the ten-day stint, he pledged £100,000 to a riding school for children with special needs, £50,000 to Guide Dogs for the Blind and £225,000 to a disability centre. No biggie for a man worth an estimated £200 million?

    Think again.

  • Early morning entertainment

    Danny Caro
    Aug 19, 2008

    Early morning coverage of the Beijing Olympics has clearly come too soon in the day for some at the BBC.

    And there is plenty of room for improvement for members of staff working on the Corporation's subtitles.

    Perhaps, of course, someone is either trying to pre-empt what certain commentators are about to say, trying to be too clever or have simply bitten off more than they can chew.

  • It's the neo-cons, stupid!

    Daniella Peled
    Aug 19, 2008
    There have been plenty of surprises in the Georgia crisis – but one aspect has been utterly predictable.
    In the midst of the complex threats and dynamics of sovereignty and spheres of influence and endless Cold War rhetoric, one issue seemed crystal clear to large numbers of commentators and bloggers.
    It was the neo-cons what done it.
    Yup, those pesky Washington hawks were at it again. Not content with invading Afghanistan and occupying Iraq and ratcheting up tensions with Iran and being all pro-Israeli, they had now gone and messed up the Caucasus.
    For some, it was cut and dried. “This is a tale of US expansion not Russian aggression,” raged Seumas Milne in the Guardian. Robert Sheer in the influential blog, the Huffington Post, invoked “a neoconservative cabal” stoking an international crisis to influence the US elections.
    Even better, Israeli security companies have been giving extensive training to the Georgian army – and were warned to withdraw their employees by Moscow just days before the fighting began.
    So now there was also a juicy Zionist connection, with whiffs of conspiracy too!
    Of course, this is not to downplay US or Israeli involvement and interests in the region. The expansion of Nato, energy security, military co-operation and all the other vital details of international relations certainly played their part in this conflict.
    All that bothersome detail, however, is not as sexy as shouting “It’s the neo-cons, stupid!” across the blogosphere.
    Makes you wonder just what is going to happen if Barrack Obama wins the US elections. Are the neo-cons still going to wreak their wrath, or are we going to have another hazily-defined but supremely evil ideology to blame for all the world’s ills? At least it would make a nice change.
  • Jews in the middle of nowhere: Lubavitch blogs them

    Miriam Shaviv
    Aug 19, 2008

    Chabad are certainly the PR masters.

    Each summer, some 400 young rabbis are sent to far-flung communities in order to make contact with local Jews, as part of a programme called 'Roving Rabbis'. This year they are running a blog about their experiences - which is actually quite interesting.

    In this post, for example, two young Lubavitchers meet a mental patient at a top-security hospital in Connecticut: